As detailed fully by Kelly Maher earlier this week, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper is in a political dust up of his own making over the death penalty. Hickenlooper, who is seeking reelection this year and has a formidable opponent in former Congressman Bob Beauprez, recently said that if he isn’t reelected because due to Nathan Dunlap and the death penalty being used as a political football, he would grant Dunlap full clemency between the election and the new year.
Hickenlooper’s statements, which come from a yet unaired CNN documentary on the death penalty that was planned to air in September, have offended some family members who still mourn for the children Nathan Dunlap took from them.
According to the Denver area CBS affiliate, the father of a 19 girl killed by Dunlap said “Gov. John Hickenlooper is a coward because the governor said it’s possible he could grant clemency to mass murderer Nathan Dunlap.”
Bob Crowell, the 19 year old victims father, said of Hickenlooper’s purely political clemency ploy, “I think that’s the coward’s way out, and I view John Hickenlooper as a coward.”
While Hickenlooper has tried to downplay his offensive contemplations on clemency by saying he has no plans to revisit his decision for a temporary reprieve, he has also made his stance on the death penalty more clear and shifted away from his earlier stance that it be reserved for only the most extreme of cases, such as Nathan Dunlap.
“While I am opposed to the death penalty and do not believe the state should be taking lives, I respect that others may feel differently.” Governor Hickenlooper said in a statement issued from his office.
The families of Dunlap’s victims certainly deserve better than to have Hickenlooper betray them with a temporary reprieve and then threaten to take the justice these families have sought for two decades and completely remove it from the realm of possibility. And I am certain his non-apology apology isn’t going to be enough.
Hickenlooper’s once quirky nature has been replaced by a darker more selfish character intent on having his way, win or lose, and no matter the pain and suffering it will cause the families and friends of the victims and survivors of Dunlap’s horrific shooting spree on December 14, 1993.